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story.lead_photo.caption Lynn Atkins/The Weekly Vista Alex Sanford, golf professional at Highlands, posts the Pro-Am scores on the brand new scoreboard recently built by the volunteer organization, Friends of the Highlands on Tuesday of the APT Tournament.

The course is in good shape, professional golfer Tom Moore said, but at the Highlands, you need to drive straight.

Moore is a young pro golfer, working his way up through the APT series. On Tuesday, June 5, he played with two mayors and enjoyed it.

Tuesday was the Pro-Am tournament. One pro playing in the Cooper Community NWA Charity Classic was assigned to a team of three amateurs. Moore's team included Bella Vista Mayor Peter Christie and Bentonville Mayor Bob McCaslin. Both cities helped sponsor the event.

"It's pretty amazing to pay with the pro's," Jennifer Fagan, the fourth on Moore's team said.

"He hits it and it goes on forever," Christie said. "He's very patient too," he added.

Both Fagan and Christie agreed that they learned something from Moore.

"I learned I need to keep my day job," Fagan said, laughing.

Ethan Martinez, a member of the Bentonville West high school team said the Highlands is his team's home course. He played with a pro who knew the course almost as well as he did since it was his second tournament here.

Bill Barr, chairman of the POA's Golf Committee, said the professional he played with was friendly and easy to get along with, but Barr said he didn't ask him for any tips.

The team that won the morning flight with a score of 57 included professional Austin Gutgsell and amateurs Curt Stoops, Larry Seymour and Rick McClintock who all enjoyed their morning.

"This community really takes on the event," Gutgsell said. "They're very involved."

He said other members of the APT tour call Bella Vista one of the top two tournaments of the tour. The Highlands Course is also considered one of the best golf courses, although it can be demanding off the tee, he said.

Although Gutgsell's drives were longer than his teammates, the down side of a long drive is that it can go further off target, he explained.

The game was played as a scramble, so all four played from the ending position of the best drive.

"It was a group effort," Gutgsell said about their winning score.

Gutgsell plays golf almost every day, he said. He's usually traveling to a tournament three weeks out of each month.

"You're basically living out of your car," he said.

Like many of the APT golfers, he's hoping to move to the PGA tour someday, but it's not easy. In order to continue to improve, he has to focus, he explained, so most of the APT players don't have a regular job. The top players may win enough in tournaments to help pay expenses, but many players don't break even. Gutgsell said he worked selling commercial real estate for three years and saved money to help with living expenses while he focuses on golf.

"We're not here for the big bucks," he said.

General News on 06/13/2018

Print Headline: Pro-Am raises money and excitement

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